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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chickens to the Rescue, written and illustrated by John Himmelman. Henry Holt & Company. 2006. $21.00 ages 3 and up

"On Wednesday, the dog ate Jeffrey Greenstalk's book report that was due the next morning.

Chickens to the rescue!

"Smart chickens," said Jeffrey Greenstalk."

Those little ones who are just learning to read are going to love this book! The pattern matches the delight in Pigs to the Rescue (Henry Holt, 2010) and is full of fun and wondrous illustrations. Days of the week, difficulties to deal with in the Greenstalk family...all are familiar and that is what makes this book one that children will want to try reading on their own.

The text is in a repetitive form, and is accompanied by pencil and watercolor illustrations that are hilarious and filled with spirit and vigorous activity. None of it will overwhelm the child reader, but will surely draw their attention to every remarkable detail. I pored over the pages always, finding something new to cause me to snicker.

Oh, those chickens! They arrive in a flurry, wings flapping and white feathered bodies tumbling. All they want to do is help, and help they do! Whether dressed in swimsuits for well diving, sporting aprons for dinner making, sign-equipped for truck stopping or collectively holding a trampoline to catch a wind-blown cow, their bodies express all of the lengths they are willing to go to make everything better. What true enjoyment they bring! They show such pride in their efforts....don't be fooled, they are very pleased with themselves.

Having met the chickens prior to the opening page of text, we know a lot about them before they begin their quest to be the saviors for all things Greenstalk. There is so much to look at, and such feelings to explore. One chicken is always on the lookout for the next catastrophe...and a new one crops up each day. The book ends with a surprise on Sunday, and offers a hint at what the future might hold.

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